Monday, 27 June 2016

Learning To Heal After A Lifetime Of Body Hate

Recently I attended a deep breath meditation workshop centered around the idea of breaking through emotional blocks. It was a wonderful few hours of Kundalini yoga practice, chanting and breath work.
During the breath work session we were encouraged to let go of old emotional blocks. To feel around our heart and brain cavities and root out anything which no longer served us.

It was quite a powerful experience and as I came to the end of the session I was hit by the overwhelming feeling that I needed to allow myself to heal. 
I realised I carried around emotional injuries inflicted upon me by a society that had told me (both verbally and in a more nuanced form of messaging) that as a fat woman I was unworthy. 
To receive the mantra "you are less because you are more" day in, day out does some pretty dark stuff to your psyche. The only way as a woman of size you can exist without going totally mad (or never leaving the house) is to permanently surround yourself with a protective shied, like an emotional Teflon coating. 
The problem is that much like Teflon it stops things getting to you but it also keeps everything out. 
When you wear defiance like perfume and add a "fuck you " attitude along with your clothes every morning, inevitably a hardening of the soul happens. 
I realised that my wounds from fat hate hadn't really healed, they had just scabbed over and actually I needed to acknowledge the hurt in order to properly recover and move forward.
When I say acknowledge the hurt, I don't mean hurt from random strangers. Men shouting abuse at me from cars, or shop assistants smirking when I have had to ask for the next size up in a changing room, that is  a temporary sting, like a nettle, sharp yes but gone in no time at all. I'm talking about the hurt that is caused by  memories of how I hated myself for so long. How I believed I "let people down" with my inability  to stay at the smaller end of my dress size yoyo. 
The word "forgiveness" bounced around my brain like a ping pong ball. I needed to forgive myself for all the self hate I used to pile onto my lovely body, I needed to forgive myself for all the self deprecating banter that I jumped in with before anyone else could say the body shaming words. I needed to forgive myeslf for ever speaking to my own reflection with disdain and disrespect.
When I returned home I kept thinking about this idea of forgiveness and found a quote by the Guru Osho which sums it up so beautifully

"Love knows how to forgive. Not only does one have to forgive others, one has to forgive oneself too, and that is the harder thing because we have been taught to feel guilty; we are burdened by guilt. A burdened man cannot grow and one who feels guilty feels always sick; he does not allow his wounds to heal. So I teach you to forgive others, but even more to forgive yourself. Out of that forgiveness, a great love for yourself will arise. The condemnation will disappear"

The politics of body positivity were written first in defiance. A rejection of societies need to shame non conformists (and to be a fat woman is about as non conformist as you can get) This defiance and anger has served us well but for me it fails to recognise the deep pain carried by many women of size.
I am feeling a great need to honour that pain, recognise it and by doing so feel I'm allowing myself to heal properly. 

I don't think I am the only one who feels like this, and I don't believe this is something only applicable to plus size women. There are survivors of this form of emotional injury on every street, catch the eyes of any woman in a store and for everyone that is shining with confidence and swagger, there are others who eyes shine with tears. They don't believe they are "good enough" when in fact they are magic.
So today I'm here to say we must all collectively not just fight the intolerance of strangers or society, we must also fight our own intolerance towards ourselves. Recognise it for what it is. Learnt behavior, a form of Stockholm syndrome where we fell in love with the very body ideals who held us captive in misery. Lets shine a light into those dark ugly places inside us and transform them into something beautiful and loved.


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